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(The conclusion of the sixth sermon)

In this temptation (as in the former) there is both fire to consume ourselves, and a dart to wound our consciences. The fire is the motion of discontent[1], that God is[2] either a poor God, not able sufficiently to reward those that serve him: or else an unkind God, that will not reward the duties that are performed by those that serve him.[3] By this wee come to say; Who is the Almightie, that wee shold serue him? Job. 21. 15.[4] The wicked are they that prosper and increase in riches. I haue cleansed my hart in vaine, for daylie haue I been punished. Psal. 73. 12.[5] Then this dart makes us weary of well doing: and then follows, that we will serve the Devil being discontent with God’s service, we undertake the service of his enemy: he requires nothing but a little falling down[6], and then if Simon shall come, and require any unlawful thing at our hands, we are ready (with Judas) to meet with him, and say; What wil ye giue me, and I will doo it, Mat. 26. 15[7]. though it bee to the betraying of Christ. The Devil here opens his meaning in this temptation plainly[8], (that he would have him fall down & worship him) with a bare and bold face: before, he came disguised, and spoke in parables. His meaning is not when he says Dabo[9], to give them: but to barter or exchange one thing for another. It is no gift, but a flat bargain: men use not to account it a gift, except it be without rendering back either money or service[10]. If he render here service back, he may well think I have sold my soul for Hoc aliquid[11], Mat. 16. 76[12]. He may think, as Esau sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage. Heb. 12. 16[13] so has he sold his soul, his birth right[14], and freedom: for we were all bought with a price, 1. Cor. 7. 23[15]. the same great high Priest redeemed us all with his blood. No sins are so carefully to be taken heed of, as these, that have annexed to adoration, donation: he has Malum[16] with a jointer[17]. If he should have cast himself down from the Pinnacle, here is all he should have had: they would have talked of it, and have wondered a while at it.[18]

Well, we must be thus persuaded, that God is as well able and willing to reward us for any service, as the Devil, and better too. It is he indeed that reigns over the kingdoms of men, Dan. 5. 21[19] and places in them whom pleases him: but when he gives or disposes, he gives indeed freely, exacting nothing back again, unless it be such things, as he were to have without any such gift, such things as are due of mere right, without any stipulation or hire.[20] James. 1. 5[21]. The Devil’s Dabo [I will give] is, as offices and parsonages are given among us; that is, as usually sold as horses in Smithfield[22]. But if we could be content to give indeed, let that heroical mind that was in Abraham be in us, Gen. 14. 23. that as he would not take anything of Melchisedech[23], so we will not be a shoe latchet the richer by the Devil[24]. If he offer to make us wealthy, let vs answer him; Pecunia tua tecum pereat.[25]


[1] All persuasion begins with discontentment, because persuasion requires us to change from one state to another. The discontentment can begin with either an allurement that you have at present is not good enough (just a moment before you may have thought you were happy, but let me show you something better); or it can begin with an attack upon your present circumstance: something to make you positively unhappy. Once discontentment is achieved, the next step is the offer. The Devil’s first move is thus discontentment: it is the beginning of a fire.

[2] Even if God is not explicitly stated, all temptations entail God: Behind all temptations is the implicit statement that God will not provide, you had better take care of this yourself.

[3] John Bunyan puts this point into Apollyon’s mouth in Pilgrim’s Progress as follows: “Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! And besides, thou countest his service better than mine; whereas he never yet came from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of their enemies’ hands: but as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them! And so will I deliver thee.”John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).

[4]

                                  Why do the wicked live,

reach old age, and grow mighty in power?

                                  Their offspring are established in their presence,

and their descendants before their eyes.

                                  Their houses are safe from fear,

and no rod of God is upon them.

                  10               Their bull breeds without fail;

their cow calves and does not miscarry.

                  11               They send out their little boys like a flock,

and their children dance.

                  12               They sing to the tambourine and the lyre

and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.

                  13               They spend their days in prosperity,

and in peace they go down to Sheol.

                  14               They say to God, ‘Depart from us!

We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.

                  15               What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’

Job 21:7–15 (ESV)

[5] In Psalm 73, the Psalmist looks at the wicked and sees the wicked’s life to be wholly better in all ways. He then looks at himself and thinks that he has received nothing for serving the Lord. Why should I have taken all this effort to deny temptations when I get nothing for my faithfulness?

                  11               And they say, “How can God know?

Is there knowledge in the Most High?”

                  12               Behold, these are the wicked;

always at ease, they increase in riches.

                  13               All in vain have I kept my heart clean

and washed my hands in innocence.

Psalm 73:11–13 (ESV)

[6] The Devil’s service comes so easily. He requires only “a little falling down.” What could be easier?

[7]

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV)

[8] He explains himself clearly.

[9] Latin, I will give.

[10] It is not a gift unless it comes without strings or obligations.

[11] Latin, “this thing” (where “thing” could be anything).

[12] 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

[13] Hebrews 12:15–16 (ESV)

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

[14]  29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 25:29–34 (ESV) As the oldest son, the promise made to Abraham and Issac that the land would go to their descendants was not worth persisting in hunger.

[15] 1 Corinthians 7:23 (ESV)

23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.

[16] Latin, evil.

[17] Evil with an addition.

[18] The only pay-off for throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the temple would have been the discussion of those who saw it. He would have been paid in words.

[19] 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. Daniel 5:17–23 (ESV)

[20] All the kingdoms and honors of the world are disposed of by God. Yet when God gives one a kingdom, God is not seeking to manipulate the recipient. A king owes to God that which he would owe if he the king’s servant.

[21] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4 (ESV)

[22] Any “gift” of the Devil is a commercial transaction, it is given solely so that he may get back what he desires.

[23] The city of Sodom (among others) was sacked by an invading army. Among those taken captive was Abraham’s nephew Lot. Abraham organized a war party and managed to rescue everyone. The king of Sodom offered to allow Abraham to take some of what was captured as his spoil. Abraham refused to take anything from the king of Sodom. Abraham also meets Melchizedek. Abraham gives a tithe to Melchizedek.

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,

                                    “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Possessor of heaven and earth;

                  20               and blessed be God Most High,

who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

Genesis 14:17–24 (ESV)

[24] We will never profit in making a deal with the Devil. He will always make the better bargain.

[25] Latin, may your money perish with you. It is close to the Vulgate translation of Peter’s answer to Simon Magus, “Pecunia tua tecum sit in perditionem.” Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam., Ed. electronica. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005), Ac 8:20.